Michael Horne
The Roundup

McGee’s Folly

By - Feb 21st, 2005 12:00 pm

If you want to get a chuckle and a “no comment” out of a Milwaukee alderman these days, just tell him that Ald. Michael McGee, Jr. “certainly has a way with words.”

What can you say? The Sixth District Alderman, who likened himself (quite proudly) to Saddam Hussein’s son, certainly is an activist, wasting the community’s time on many fronts simultaneously by offending gays, shopkeepers, fellow aldermen (a big NO-NO, the Mayor and the political process in general.

On Wednesday he plans a morning news conference outside the Mayor’s office to reveal what he claims to be shocking news about the Mayor’s relation with the black community.

His appearance will have to be seen to be ignored.

Last week he drew the Midtown Mall shopping district into his sights, asking that black people boycott the stores there to show their economic power. He threw in the Shops at Grand Avenue for good measure, and told his followers to avoid shopping there on — oh, I forgot the date.

His colleague, Ald. Joe Davis, Sr., a former steamfitter who has had experience as a gainfully-employed individual, countered with a statement saying, “Don’t Penalize African American Partners.”

He noted that Midtown Mall, which replaced Capitol Court, was recently purchased by Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust for $50 million – a significant investment in the central city.

There are 1,017 jobs in the many stores in the center, including McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Culver’s and a Jewel-Osco. Of those jobs, 876 are held by African Americans. That’s 90 percent, and is the sort of good news that you wish Mayor Barrett would have spread himself.

In fact, the mayor’s quietude in the matter of the Jude beating has given more flamboyant and irresponsible voices like McGee’s the chance to control the debate on public policy issues here. Perhaps Barrett is right to remain quiet, but maybe it’s time he hired an attack dog.

Bragging Rights: Mayor Missed a Chance

The Wisconsin Builder Magazine in its February issue includes an interesting article on minority hiring in Milwaukee. In it, the author, Sean Ryan, runs through a litany of the region’s challenges in adequate minority employment, particularly in the building trades. Although minority hiring goals in public works projects have been in place for years, Ryan discovered a pattern in past Gubernatorial and Mayoral administrations to be quite generous with waivers to minority hiring goals. The programs were in place, but simply not implemented. The city did not give Ryan numbers for the number of waivers granted in the Norquist administration, but did reveal that Mayor Tom Barrett has remained true to his goal of increasing minority hiring in the City. Barrett has issued only one waiver in his nearly one year in office. The message is being heard by builders that Barrett has proven his sincerity in this matter.

Green Team Appointed

Mayor Tom Barrett launched the Milwaukee Green Team to “build a greener, cleaner Milwaukee” at an event Tuesday February 22nd , at Highland Gardens, 1818 W. Juneau Avenue.

He introduced the committee beneath the largest residential modular green roof in the country at the green-friendly 114 unit housing facility.

The 11-member team will be charged with reviewing existing greening efforts in the city and find new ways to guide the city through the greening process, and to “leverage green projects in the private sector.”

Barrett made the announcement dressed in a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon tie, which is the closest he’s come to a fashion (or musical) statement in his varied career of public service.

The meetings will be open to the public, he promised.

How did the name “Green Team” come about? DCD spokesperson Andrea Rowe said “a consortium came up with the name,” and there is no reason to doubt her. Barrett said, “well, we looked at a lot of colors” before coming up with the name.

After the meeting, he took a reporter aside to say, “we really did spend a lot of time coming up with a name. The lean green machine team was another option.”

The committee will split into workgroups which will consider things like requiring green roofs on all city buildings, or “to require private developers to include green technology in their projects when public financing is involved.”

The Mayor took pains to point out that there is already a good deal of green initiative work underway in the city.

Co-chair Robert Greenstreet – (How about the Greenstreet Team?) said that development is a hallmark of a city. “There are great opportunities ahead of us. Today, green buildings impact such things as spiraling energy costs, sick building syndrome and even deep tunnel overflows. “Sustainable development is not a fad,” Greenstreet announced. “It is good basic design, and reduces strain on the existing infrastructure.” Greenstreet wore his customary outfit of a black suit with matching shirt and tie.

Preston Cole, Environmental Services Superintendent for the Department of Public Works, and a Green Team member, said “everyone in City Government is working on green initiatives.” They range from the ctiy’s $1.2 million in revenues recycling program, which is ranked among the top five in the nation, the elimination of 40,000 square feet of playground asphalt and the conversion of traffic signals from incandescent to LED that reduced city energy costs in that sector 80 – 90 per cent.

The mayor announced the members of the team, and trotted them out for the cameras. He said, “I would also like to recognize a special person who is not a member of the team, but she is the person who came up with the idea. Where is Julilly Kohler?”

Kohler was around the corner, out of camera-shot, but came around to acknowledge the Mayor’s greetings.

The team is expected to file a formal report on its recommendations in August.

The Milwaukee Green Team Roster

Look Who’s At It: Why You Probably Missed Feingold’s C-SPAN Interview

Under the plaintive headline of “Did You See My Interview on C-SPAN” Russ Feingold has mailed supporters a link to the broadcast featuring Wisconsin’s senior senator and Brian Lamb, the founder of the public affairs network.

This helpful outreach from Feingold is one more reminder that he is planning a run for president, and we shall be hearing much from him in the future. Let us hope that Wisconsin remains a battleground state lest Feingold be diverted from his mission of visiting every one of the state’s 72 counties each year.

Now, Did You See Russell Feingold’s Interview on CSPAN? The answer is most likely a resounding “no,” since, as the Senator admits, it ran during the Superbowl, and was likely not a ratings blockbuster, even in the District of Columbia. Good try, Russ!

[Feingold’s email is appended below]
Dear Friend,

On Super Bowl Sunday- which at my house was not super at all since the Packers did not make the big game- C-SPAN aired an interview I had conducted with Brian Lamb.

It was a far-ranging interview and touched on numerous personal and policy subjects from my family’s Wisconsin roots to my work to limit the influence of money in politics.I was glad to have the time to speak with Brian and thought you might be interested in watching the interview online at cspan.org. I hope you can find the time to view it.

You can see a recording of the interview here: www.q-and-a.org/archives/

If you don’t have broadband or would prefer to read a transcript of the interview, you can do so here:

I look forward to talking with you soon.


Russ Feingold
U.S. Senator

PS- If you found the interview informative, please consider forwarding it on to your friends and family. You can do so at http://feingold.c.topica.com/maaddgYabesu3bniW9kb/ Also, please encourage others to keep in touch by signing up for email messages and updates on my website www.russfeingold.org

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